In his earlier years, Wright State’s Scott Nagy might have taken a different approach in pulling Bill Wampler from the starting lineup. Like those old-school, my-way-or-the-highway coaches, he likely would have announced the change to the team and let the junior forward work through the demotion himself.
But Nagy went out of his way to spend one-on-one time with Wampler before bringing him off the bench for the IUPUI game Sunday afternoon, making sure his slumping leading scorer was emotionally ready to play.
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“It’s not easy to be starting, starting, starting and all of a sudden we put you on the bench,” Nagy said. “I talked to him about it and said, ‘This is not punishment. It’s just a way to figure out how to maybe release some of the pressure or whatever it is. Don’t worry about how it looks. The only guy you have to worry about is me. Who cares what other people think?’”
The two talked before the team’s shoot-around Sunday morning, and Nagy sounded a bit surprised himself that he went the extra mile with Wampler.
“Sometimes my pride gets in the way, and I say, ‘They just need to do what I tell them to do and quit worrying about it.’ Probably, when I was younger, that’s how I would have handled it. But as I’ve gotten older, I must care more about what the players think,” he said, before adding with a chuckle, “I blame my wife for that.”
Whether it was the Nagy powwow or just his own personal resilience, Wampler had perhaps his best game of the season. He popped off the bench with 16:59 left in the first half and scored a game-high 22 points in the 72-64 win .
Nagy didn’t take him out the rest of the half, and he tallied 15 of his total before halftime. He went 7 for 14 from the field (and 3 for 7 on 3-pointers) in 31 minutes.
“We were trying to figure things out and get better starts as a team and try to get guys going. It worked out,” Wampler said.
The Drake transfer went 3 for 16 from the field in an overtime loss Thursday to UIC. Though he was still averaging a team-high 14.5 points, he’d made only 37 of 119 shots (31.1 percent), including 19 of 66 three-pointers (28.8 percent), in his previous eight games.
“It’s just like (Golden State star) Klay Thompson being in a shooting slump. You’ll eventually get out of it. Good shooters will make shots,” Wampler said.
Nagy was impressed with how Wampler handled the lineup switch.
“I’m super proud of Bill. … He could have moped, and he didn’t. But he’s playing 31 minutes. What’s it matter? I tell the guys to be more concerned about your minutes and not your name being called (for the starting lineup),” he said.
Wampler also earned the admiration of his peers.
“Nobody knew he wasn’t starting until (Saturday) when they told us who we were guarding, and Bill wasn’t one of them,” point guard Cole Gentry said. “But he kept his preparation. He was still here early making shots before the game. And I think it says a lot about him.
“He didn’t hold his head down, didn’t pout. He was just ready to go. We respect that. We see that as teammates, and you can’t complain about your role. If Bill’s the leading scorer coming off the bench and is willing to accept that role, no one else has any room to complain about anything.”
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: The Raiders (10-4, 2-0), picked to finish third in the Horizon League, will host preseason conference favorite Green Bay (6-5, 1-0) at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The Phoenix has won 10 straight meetings in the series and has a 62-4 edge overall. The last Raider win came in the 2014 conference tourney finals.